Website updates – Resume

September 30th, 2010

I’ve made some updates to the Resume section of my website (both the in-browser version as well as the downloadable PDF version) to reflect some of my recent freelance work as well as other jobs I’ve taken up in the past few months. Have any questions about my background? Shoot me an email at!

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11 Second Club: June 2010 – Final render posted

July 6th, 2010

I’ve finished my entry for June 2010′s 11 Second Club challenge. This was my first time submitting to a contest like this and I placed pretty well. I’ve added the final render to my video portfolio for your viewing pleasure! It’s also available on my Youtube channel. Take a look!

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I’ll be participating in the July challenge and I’ll be starting on it much earlier so I’ve got the time to develop the concept better as well as polish the animation some more. Look forward to dailies as they come along!

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11 Second Club – June 2010 – Dailies 5

June 27th, 2010

Next round of dailies for the June project. I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday working on lighting and then doing render passes today. I’ll be sending this around to get some feedback before making the final render in time for the June deadline.

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11 Second Club – June 2010 – Dailies 4

June 26th, 2010

Next daily on the June challenge. I revisited a few spots on the man as I wasn’t satisfied with the arc his left arm was making; upon turning on motion trails I noticed it was going all over the place, so I refined that a bit. Most of the progress is working on in-betweens for the woman, though there’s still a little left to do on that.

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11 Second Club – June 2010 – Dailies 3

June 24th, 2010

Next batch of dailies. The man’s in-betweening is mostly done, barring some tweaks and adding in some details. I know there’s some clipping going on with the woman character just as the man falls forward, but she’s still on her stepped blocking; that’ll get fixed when I do in-betweens for her.

11 Second Club – June 2010 – Dailies 2

June 23rd, 2010

Second round of dailies. I’ve done the first pass of in-betweens on the man for the first half of the sequence. The latter half of the full clip is the same stepped blocking from the previous dailies, so I didn’t include that in the playblast.

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11 Second Club – June 2010 – Dailies 1

June 22nd, 2010

First round of dailies for the June 2010 11 Second Challenge. So far I’ve blocked in the main poses with stepped tangents. I was a little surprised to find out that Maya 2011′s playblasts are a little bugged (hard-coded to render at 24fps regardless of program settings), but for rough dailies, temporarily changing the scene frame rate to 24fps should be okay until this bug is fixed.

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June 11 Second Club challenge / Norman rig impressions

June 19th, 2010

I’ll be participating in this month’s 11 Second Club challenge. As a change of pace, instead of BasicGuy I’ll try using the Norman rig featured on their website. I’ve tinkered with this rig for a while and it seems perfect for animation tests. It you can adjust the body proportions pretty easily to build characters that look different, and none of these adjustments make the rig unstable. It has a standard array of body controls, all of which deform well and seem very stable. Norman features FK/IK matching like BasicGuy, but the scripting seems to take a different approach resulting an even faster workflow; there’s a single button to run FK/IK matching on the selected limb controller that automatically switches to the inactive control set (IE: running the command when a limb is in FK mode matches and switches to the IK rig). I’ve taken a look at the MEL and while scripting isn’t my forte, I can tell that it’s a very interesting approach.

The only thing that I’m not too big a fan of is its face rig. I love Jason Osipa-style facial control schemes (which is why I build them into all of my own rigs), and while there’s nothing wrong with Norman’s approach I just like having the added visual feedback from sliders. Norman’s face rig looks like it’ll still animate easily, with smooth open/close and wide/narrow mouth shapes as well as a variety of general shape changes and brow controls. One thing I’ve found that’s pretty neat is that there are aim-constrained eye controls that work in tandem with an FK eye rig. I’d like to dissect this rig and see how that’s done.

It looks like a really fun rig and I think it’ll work well. The goal with this project is to develop a demo reel-worthy character animation segment, so here goes!

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New BasicGuy posted on Tim Oberlander’s blog

June 3rd, 2010

Tim Oberlander recently updated his BasicGuy rig to version 3.3.1. I first used BasicGuy in a character animation class at SCAD (it quickly became a favorite of the entire class), and to this day it’s still my favorite rig. It looks like the new version revamps the BasicGuy GUI scripts; the GUI now has much more advanced functionality built into it, and the FK/IK snapping workflow has been simplified. I’ve been thinking of doing some more character animation work lately so I’ll probably give it a spin myself soon enough. Check it out!

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Read any good books lately? I have!

May 24th, 2010

I haven’t been updating this blog as often as I should have, and I wanted to post a little to talk about what I’ve been working on the past few months.

I’ve recently completed my work contract with Maia Magnus Entertainment where I was brought in to work on a number of character rigs. I’ve done some rigging before for my own projects, but I’ve learned a lot in just a few short months and now feel like rigging is my strongest aspects. I’ve learned some MEL scripting as well, as well as customized Maya to speed up my workflow. I’d like to go into more details on the rigs but unfortunately I’m bound by NDA.

My work with Lich King Entertainment is still ongoing. I’ve spent most of my time studying texturing, using procedural nodes in Maya as a base to generate color, spec, and bump maps. I’ve recently incorporated ZBrush into the workflow, sculping the models in order to generate normal maps. I’ve also found ways to merge the normal maps out of ZBrush with pre-existing bump maps.

As for independent work, I’ve actually shifted gears a little bit and am reading up on character animation. I took a few classes at UGA and SCAD, but I was never formally trained in the ‘basics’ of character animation; I picked things up as I went along in my studies. I think I can churn out some pretty decent animation, but I know there are ways I can improve my workflow. With that in mind I’ve finally gone and read through The Animator’s Survival Kit, which I’m embarrassed to admit only reading now as I’ve had it on my bookshelf for the past five years (with it being recommended in my very first animation class back during my sophomore year in college). If you’re an aspiring animator, stop what you’re doing and order a copy of this book. It talks you through the basic concepts of animation and gives you case examples of every kind of walk cycle or character motion you can imagine. It’s geared a little more towards 2D animation than 3D, but the lessons transfer over between mediums very well.

I’m also taking a closer look at Acting for Animators. I took an acting class at UGA and while there’s a lot of overlap, this book is a pretty quick read and has some very valuable information as towards how to really ‘sell’ your characters’ behavior.

Maya is an amazing program and I know there are so many tools under the hood that I don’t know the first thing about that would help better develop my character animation skills. With that in mind I’ve recently ordered How to Cheat in Maya 2010: Tools and Techniques for the Maya Animator. I ordered this as a companion (or maybe foil?) to the Animator’s Survival Kit because as the name implies, this book is geared towards Maya users. I’m hoping I can combine the lessons in the two books to develop some new character animation pieces for my portfolio.

While we’re talking about learning resources, here are some books or tutorials I’ve studied that’ve really helped with my rigging work:

-The Art of Rigging Vol. 1 – The companion files and scripts that accompany the book alone are worth the very affordable $10 price tag. The information in this book is just a little antiquated, but it’ll guide you through how to put together some very powerful rigs and it goes into a good amount of detail about the MEL scripting that drives everything.

-Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right – This book is specifically about setting up face rigs. They guide you through modeling a face and plotting out the geometry so that it’ll deform smoothly, as well as describes one-by-one the kind of blend shapes you’ll need to make a versatile rig. Like Art of Rigging, the companion scripts to this alone are worth the cost of the book— it includes a whole shelf of tools for things like setting up your blend shapes, building a UI for your face rig, and incorporating fix or half shapes is a snap. Highly recommended.

-Digital Tutors – It looks like they’ve gone subscription-only, but the tutorials on Digital Tutors have been a very valuable resource. I especially recommend their ‘Cartoon Character Rigging in Maya’ tutorial set; it doesn’t cover everything you’ll need to make an efficient rig, but combine this with the lessons in the Art of Rigging and Stop Staring and you’ll know everything you need to make a good rig.

That’s about all for now. Once I get my animation book in I’m thinking about redoing the animation in the Parkview Music Tech commercial, so I’ll post dailies as that comes along. Thanks for reading!

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